Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Mermaid bubbles: Art Bead Scene July Challenge

This month’s art inspiration from Art Bead Scene is a gorgeous illustration by Edmund Dulac, from a series for a book of Hans Christian Anderson fairytales published in 1911. This particular one is from “The Little Mermaid”. Don’t you love the muted watery palette?

The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac  Pencil, pen, black ink and watercolour with scratching out on paper 12¼ x 9 7/8 in. (30.8 x 25.2 cm.) Colour palette by Brandi Hussey
The Little Mermaid, 1911 by Edmund Dulac
Pencil, pen, black ink and watercolour with scratching out on paper
12¼ x 9 7/8 in. (30.8 x 25.2 cm.)
Colour palette by Brandi Hussey

At first I thought I would make a pendant featuring the illustration itself, set under resin, after finding it in a digital collection of Dulac illustrations sized for domino pendants on Etsy. I still might do that one of these days, but when I printed out the image the colours were on the dark side, perhaps because it was so reduced in size.

So instead I went with plan B, combining a Green Girl Studios mermaid button with some lovely lampwork beads from Australian lampworker Darcy York, who sells her beads as Silver Gypsy on Etsy. The beads have have a pinky-purply core under clear glass, and blue spots on them that remind me of bubbles. The colours pick out the muted pink and purple hues in the picture. I strung them in a bracelet with a mixture of seed beads reflecting the colours in the illustration, using waxed linen in magenta and plum.

Mermaid bubbles bracelet

I’ll be linking this blog post to Art Bead Scene ‘s recap post at the end of the week.


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Dancers’ skirts: Art Bead Scene April challenge

At the last minute I have managed to put something together for the Art Bead Scene April challenge, which features a painting by French Impressionist Edgar Degas as our inspiration. I’ve always loved Degas’ art, and to me this painting captures the dynamic beauty of ballet contrasted with the endless waiting behind the scenes.

april 2014 - degas palette
Swaying Dancer (Dancer in Green), 1877-79, by Edgar Degas. Pastel and Gouache on Paper 26″ x 14″ (66 x 36 cm). Palette by Brandi Hussey

I was browsing through one of my favourite ceramic beadmaker’s pages—Peruzi— when I came across a pendant that matched the dancers’ tutus almost perfectly, right down to the flashes of browns and oranges in the blue-green skirts (it’s kind of dark and rainy today, so the photos aren’t the best, sorry!).


To go with the pendant I selected a collection of beads in blues and blue-greens, ambers and peaches, knotted with denim blue and orange waxed linen cord. Some little dangling flowers in translucent blue-green and peach at the junction with the chain remind me of ballet skirts.

Dancers skirts necklace

I’ll be adding this blog post to tomorrow’s Art Bead Scene monthly challenge post, so pop over then to look at what other people have been inspired to make this month. And make sure you come back on Saturday for my BSBP8 reveal!


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Pool Party Summer—the 4th Annual Challenge of Colour


Erin Prais-Hintz always runs the coolest challenges, guaranteed to stretch us all as jewellery designers. And this year’s Challenge of Color, the fourth she has held, is no exception. Last year, Erin and her colour guru friend Brandi Hussey provided participants with colour palettes drawn from satellite images of Earth, but this year, we were sent to the fabulous website COLOURlovers to find, or create, our own.

COLOURlovers is a website that lets you create and name colours, palettes and even patterns made using the cool colour palettes you create. With thousands of users, inspiration is a click away.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Challenge without a challenge, right? Erin’s extra twist involved using the names of the colours to create a poem of sorts, using the names of each colour in a game called wordlinks.

From the wordlink instructions…

“with wordlink palettes you start with a two-word (or more) colour name. the next colour name has to start with the last word of the colour before it. each colour continues this way to the end. try to make the last word of the last colour the first word of the first colour. this is really hard, though.”

Sounds like fun, but it’s harder than you’d think! I created two palettes using the Wordlinks game. My first one is called Shimmer Song:

As the sky shimmers
Shimmer of magic
Magic of starlight
Starlight song
Song of the sky

As this was a muted colour palette, I thought I would make another in brighter colours. This one is called Pool Party Summer: (2)

Summer at the pool
Pool party
Party people
People laughing
Summer of laughs.

I even used the second palette to make a pattern, Summer in the Pool, in keeping with its theme:

Pool Party Summer was the palette I eventually went with, using some wonderfully aquatic lampwork beads made by Vivian Houser at Dragyn’s Fyre Designs (these were some of the first artisan-made lampwork beads I ever bought), knotted onto deep plum waxed linen, along with a large amazonite nugget, dyed fire agate and Czech glass, a pewter mermaid connector from Green Girl Studios and antiqued silver-plated chain and clasp, to make a necklace. It’s a rare foray for me into an asymmetrical design. The matching earrings feature the lampwork beads and a few seed beads knotted onto lavender waxed linen.


Thanks again for another stimulating challenge Miss Erin, it’s always fun! And make sure you visit the other participants in the blog hop (as InLinkz doesn’t work very well on WordPress-hosted websites, you’ll need to visit Erin’s blog to see the full list of participants).

Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Mucha’s Autumn—Art Bead Scene September Challenge

This month’s Art Bead Scene Challenge inspiration picture was the irresistible Autumn by Alphonse Mucha. Mucha’s Art Nouveau illustrations are among my favourites, I love the sinuous flowing lines and nature inspired themes.

Autumn from  "The Seasons (series)", 1896 Alphonse Mucha  Oil on Panel Colour palette by Brandi Hussey
Autumn from “The Seasons (series)”, 1896
Alphonse Mucha
Oil on Panel
Colour palette by Brandi Hussey

This particular painting, one of a series representing the four seasons, is largely in shades of russet, orange and yellow, with little pops of green and dark browns. A very autumnal palette!

I used the colours in the illustration as my inspiration for this bracelet. Last year I took part in a gift exchange and one of the gifts I received was a set of beads by Tennessee-based lampworker Marie Sawyer, which just happen to be in similar swirly patterns of pinky oranges and browns. I paired three of them with some green Czech glass beads and a green maple leaf. The clasp echoes the vine tendrils in the illustration.


I also made some earrings with the leftover pair of beads.


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Art Bead Scene March Challenge

I’m a bit late posting this, as it’s almost the end of the month, but between work, kids and trying to get ready for two weeks’ holidays on the other side of the country, I just haven’t had time to show you the pieces I made for the Art Bead Scene March Challenge.

This month’s inspiration picture is gorgeous, full of lovely rich jewel-toned colours. It’s a painting called Deer in the Forest by Expressionist painter Franz Marc. Here’s the painting, along with the colour palette created by Brandi Hussey.

march 2013 - deer-in-the-forest by franz marc palette
Deer In the Forest, 1911
Marc Franz
Oil on Canvas, 100.97 x 104.78 cm
Philips Collection, Washington DC, USA
Palette by Brandi Hussey

When I saw this painting I thought immediately of a lovely set of lampworked glass beads I have that were made by a fellow Australian, Liz DeLuca. They are large bicones in a deep purple and red combo with a smattering of silver along the edge. I combined them with Czech glass ovals in green with a brownish streak though them and antique brass findings and chain in a simple wire-wrapped necklace.



I used two of the big lampworked beads to make a striking pair of earrings too, with a tiny Czech glass rondelle in green on each side.


Beads, Blog Hops and Challenges

Red blossom necklace

I have made a personal goal for myself to try to complete a piece for the Art Bead Scene monthly challenge at least every couple of months this year. February’s challenge is based on Heijinja, a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995), which features a striking red building, surrounded by softer colours in the blossom-laden tree, the people, birds and so on.

Art Bead Scene colour guru Brandi Hussey pulled out a palette from the print, which features that striking red, plus the softer shades of pinks, peaches, greys.

ArtBeadScene February challenge

Heijinja, 1941
Tōshi Yoshida
Woodblock Print
(Please note this art is copyrighted and is to be used only as inspiration.)

I recently acquired a flower pendant from Australian ceramic artist Natalie Fletcher-Jones (Peruzi) in a shade close to that vibrant deep red colour. I paired it with Czech glass rondelles and rounds in muted shades of red, brown and that denim-y blue seen in the palette above, strung onto a denim blue waxed linen cord and gunmetal chain. A simple pair of earrings in the same colours are also knotted onto waxed linen.

red blossom necklace collage


African Coast Necklace—The 3rd Annual Challenge of Colour

Challenge of color 2012 button

Well, today is reveal day for Erin Prais-Hintz’s 3rd Annual Challenge of Color. I have to admit I am late posting this, although it is still November 30 in the USA (phew!). It’s not that I hadn’t finished my piece, but the end of the year is in full swing around here and this week alone I have had my daughter’s piano concert, a school assembly performance, Christmas shopping, extreme heat, work, after school activities and, well, you get the picture.

Enough with the whinging and lame excuses and on to the challenge! Erin teamed up with Brandi Hussey, a jewellery designer turned colour guru, who created 40 palettes based on images from the Earth as Art series of satellite images. From Erin’s original blog post about the challenge:

The Earth As Art image gallery is a group of over 120 pictures taken from the Landsat series of Earth observation satellites since 1972. These pictures of the unique features of our beautiful planet are a vital resource for understanding scientific issues related to land use and natural resources. Plus they are just so darned cool!

All the images that we will be using in this Challenge of Color and all the information that I found came from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which donated all these images to the Library of Congress.

The images in these galleries are spectacular. The views of mountains, valleys, islands and forests was well as agricultural patterns and even heavily populated areas are quite striking in their abstraction. The colors are much different than what you might expect. The satellite land imagery uses a digital palette that relates to the different levels on the infrared spectrum and help to give insight into the specific geography of the image.

Erin selected two palettes for each of us from the set of 40 that Brandi created. No two participants got the same pair of palettes, and we only had to use one of them. My two palettes were gorgeous:


north america

I was intrigued and challenged by the predominance of earthy red colours in both palettes—they are not colours I gravitate toward as a rule. I looked through my bead stash and found beads that matched both palettes, which I pulled aside. I had ideas for both, but unfortunately was only able to complete the piece for the first palette—but I will complete the second piece when I have some breathing space and post it in the next few weeks.

So, that first palette. It’s a satellite image of a small African country, Guinea-Bissau, taken on 1 December 2000. The image shows complex swirling patterns in the blue of the ocean surrounding it, which are caused by the deposition of silt from the rivers you can see carving their way through the landscape. From Wikipedia, I learned this about Guinea-Bissau:

Guinea-Bissau, officially the Republic of Guinea-Bissau, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Senegal to the north and Guinea to the south and east, with the Atlantic Ocean to its west. It covers 36,125 km² (nearly 14,000 sq mi) with an estimated population of 1,600,000.

Guinea-Bissau was once part of the kingdom of Gabu, as well as part of the Mali Empire. Parts of this kingdom persisted until the 18th century, while a few others were part of the Portuguese Empire since the 16th century. It then became the Portuguese colony of Portuguese Guinea in the 19th century. Upon independence, declared in 1973 and recognised in 1974, the name of its capital, Bissau, was added to the country’s name to prevent confusion with the bordering Republic of Guinea. Guinea-Bissau has a history of political instability since gaining independence and no elected president has successfully served a full five-year term.

Only 14% of the population speaks the official language, Portuguese. A plurality of the population (44%) speaks Kriol, a Portuguese-based creole language, and the remainder speak native African languages. The main religions are African traditional religions and Islam, and there is a Christian (mostly Catholic) minority.

The country’s per-capita gross domestic product is one of the lowest in the world.

This small, tropical country lies at a low altitude; its highest point is 300 metres (984 ft). The interior is savanna, and the coastline is plain with swamps of Guinean mangroves. Its monsoon-like rainy season alternates with periods of hot, dry harmattan winds blowing from the Sahara. The Bijagos Archipelago extends out to sea.

The thing that struck me most about the image is the contrast of the vivid blue of the ocean with the red tones of the land. Interestingly, the red areas indicate dense vegetation, one of the quirks of the satellite images, which undergo complex processing to combine data collected across the electromagnetic spectrum (you can find an explanation of how these images are constructed on Erin’s blog post, linked above).


So those contrasts are what I tried to capture in my African Coast necklace, which uses copper chain and findings, combined with some Czech glass beads in an autumnal blend of lighter and deeper reds, as well as cobalt blues. I wove a blue silk fairy ribbon through the chain to highlight the vivid blues of the ocean. Sadly, I couldn’t find an art bead in my stash that had the right colours, so this time around I have not used one.


As I said above, I have plans to make a piece based on the second palette too. I have a set of crazy lace agate beads that not only contain the earthy mix of orangey-browns but the pattern of colour of the natural stone resembles the image above.


It’s been an enjoyable challenge, and one that I wish I had had more time to work on. Thank you for the beautiful palettes Erin and Brandi, and I’m really looking forward to hopping around to see everyone’s palettes and creations. Here is a list of the participants:

Jeannie Dukic    (life threw her a curveball, spread some sunshine to her anyway!)
Kristen Stevens  (her Muse is on vacation – hop over and give her Muse a nudge 😉
Tracy Stillman   (hard to bead with a wrist injury, send healing thoughts)
Melissa Trudinger  YOU ARE HERE!

All sorts of things coming up

I’ve just made a list of all the things I’ve signed myself up to do in the next couple of weeks, and, umm, I’m going to be busy! As soon as I have finished getting ready for the craft market I need to get moving on a few other things, a handful of bead and gift swaps and a handful of challenges and blog hops. Then of course I also have presents to make for my family!

Some of the highlights coming up include:

The 3rd Annual Challenge of Color: Earth as Art—Erin Prais-Hintz’s final challenge for 2012. This time, she has teamed up with colour queen Brandi Hussey to create 40 stunning palettes from enhanced satellite images. Each of the 80 participants in the blog hop get to choose between two palettes selected individually for each of us. These are my two, come back on 30 November to see which palette I chose to inspire a design.

The Art Bead Scene Ornament Blog Hop—organised by Heather Powers. In this challenge I need to create a handmade Christmas ornament using either handmade components or artist beads. I’ll post a sneak peek on 1 December, and reveal my creation a few days later on 4 December.

Finally, I was thrilled to be chosen to be part of Lorelei Eurto’s 12 Days of Christmas Handmade Gift Swap. For this swap I need to make 11 gifts and send them out across the world by the beginning of December, and starting on Christmas Day, each of us will open one present per day and blog about it as we go. As I’m the ninth on the list, my gift will be opened on 2 January.

And that’s it for blog hops in 2012. Of course, late January is when sign-ups for the 7th Bead Soup Blog Party are happening, and I’ve got a Sci-Fi themed blog hop happening sometime in the new year too. So it won’t be long before I’m busy again!